Real Snake Oil
Each summer for the past 10 years I have had the privilege of travelling to Africa. As you might expect, I often encounter disorders and diseases seldom if ever seen in my medical practice.
This past summer, as if I visited a homestead in a remote area of Swaziland, my first patient had been hit in the eyes by a spitting cobra, an extremely painful and vision threatening injury! Thankfully, I had eye drops, analgesics, and antibiotics in my limited field pharmacy.
When I travel to Africa, I am constantly reminded of how fortunate we are here in America with cutting-edge, innovative medicine. However, I am also reminded that we have perhaps lost an edge in clinical medicine often substituting diagnostic imaging, laboratory tests, and pharmaceutical medicine for thoughtful, patient-oriented care. To be truthful, we often address symptoms only while occasionally looking for the source of disease. We fail to recognize that 80% of disease is environmental and tend to discount or marginalize those who look for natural remedies, even if supported by evidence-based or serious outcome-based studies.
Enter the specialty of Integrate Medicine or Functional Medicine, a specialty that has been characterized as the “intelligent combination of traditional Western Medicine and Natural Medicine”. The traditional science of medicine has matured from the concept that one agent causes disease that is treated with one medicine to a better concept of understanding the complexity of disease. The Human Genome Project has helped us understand the biochemical individuality of medicine. It is no longer “one size fits all.” Instead, it is “one size fits one!”
Integrative or Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine recognizes the importance of individualized care, searching for the cause of disease. When feasible a natural therapy can be recommended, however, pharmaceuticals are still on the table if indicated. If “honesty is the best policy”, we need to recognize that neither Western Medicine or Natural Medicine have all the answers. Various types of “doctors” need to quit squabbling among themselves and work for the common good. To this end, I have worked for years to bridge this gap.
The truth is simple. There are more “snake oil” remedies today than at any time in history. The spark to this tinderbox has been the internet. While the FDA mandates disclaimers, endless millions of dollars are spent annually on treatments that have no scientific or even anecdotal basis and simply do not work! My experience with the American Academy of Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine has led me to scholarly doctors who remind me why I entered the profession of medicine in the first place. Doctors who are board certified in either Functional or Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine have spent years beyond medical school and residency studying Integrative Medicine. They offer a personalized approach to health care to help patients achieve maximal health.
Paul Rothwell, MD
Paul Rothwell, M.D. has been dual board certified in Family Medicine and Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine. He is a Fellow of both the American Academy of Family Practice and the American Academy of Anti-Aging & Regenerative Medicine. He is a member of the clinical faculty of the University of Oklahoma School of Medicine and has practiced Integrative Medicine in the Oklahoma City area for over 15 years.